POUSSIN, Nicolas
(b. 1594, Les Andelys, d. 1665, Roma)

Apollo and the Muses (Parnassus)

1630s
Oil on canvas, 125 x 197 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid

Nicolas Poussin was undoubtedly the most important French artist of the seventeenth century, and the major exponent of Baroque classicism. Although he worked in Rome most of his life, his influence not only in Italy but also on French painting was profound. His art was richly informed by prolonged study of the classical past and of the High Renaissance - both of classical sculpture and of Raphael and Titian. He created an extraordinarily controlled, balanced and also various blend from these and other sources, evolving original solutions to traditional problems. The Parnassus is one example.

Poussin paid homage to his revered forerunner Raphael by taking the latter's Parnassus fresco as the starting-point for a painting of the same subject. The poet being crowned with laurels is sometimes identified as Marino, Poussin's early patron, who had died earlier in 1625.